The Cascade Falls November 3, 2010 | RSS Littered with twigs and crushed leaves, the trail winds up and around the mountain. The hum of dragonflies tickles one's eardrums, and a cool breeze flows through. The gentle sound of water foreshadows what is to come: the Cascade Falls. For many college students, finding recreation off campus can be difficult – especially in a town as small as Bluefield. When Friday comes around, it may be easy to think, "There is nothing to do around here!" But fun, cheap recreation does exist in the area. For a $3.00 parking fee, one gets access to the falls for an entire day. Located in the Jefferson National Forest in Giles County, Virginia, the Cascades are for those that seek adventure. Around 150,000 people visit the Cascades every year, so it can be a little crowded at peak times like Saturday afternoon, but there is plenty of room at the falls. To get to the Cascades from Bluefield College, one would take highway 460 East through Princeton, WV and continue on that road the entire way. Just a few miles inside Pembroke, there is a sign on the left for the falls. The trip there takes about an hour, but be careful; areas on the way are known for being speed traps. Beneath the 200 ft cliffs and 69 ft falls is a pool deep enough to swim in. There is space to just stand under the falls also. Besides a swimsuit, bottles of water, trail snacks, and of course cameras are always good things to bring. The Cascades are a very social place. It is a good place for spending time with friends and meeting new people. "I really enjoyed going to the Cascades, and I'd definitely go again," said Bekah Transue, a junior here at Bluefield College. "I've been to the Cascades probably five times, and I still enjoy it. It's an adventure and it inspires me," said Cary Carpenter, a business major. There are two trails leading to the falls, upper and lower, both of which are about four miles roundtrip. It takes about an hour to get up to the falls, depending on the pace. The lower trail is a much more rustic and scenic route. It is steep at some points, and consists of rugged terrain including mossy stone staircases and twisty roots. Along the way are benches to enjoy the view. The upper trail is a less scenic, wider, trail that makes for an easier hike. Apart from the natural beauty of the falls, there is a brief history. In the 1920's- 1930's, a small logging crew worked a sawmill along Little Stoney Creek: the creek leading to the falls. An old boiler was left behind and is still there to this day. In 1965, the Forest Service bought the Cascades and built a trail for the public. In 1996, massive floods destroyed the trail, and it had to be reconstructed. The $3.00 parking fee is put towards upkeep of the trail. For college students that have trouble coming up with fun, cheap recreation, the Cascades are a great option. With the beauty of fall just beginning, and the leaves changing, there is even more reason to go out and experience the Cascades.